As Obama Holds Summit, Progressives Continue Push for Public Option

President Obama's health care summit is happening right now at Blair House, but the public option--a proposal once seen as central to Demcoratic health care reforms--isn't part of what's being negotiated there.

Nonetheless, liberals who adamantly support the public option are continuing to push for its passage through the Senate's budget reconciliation rules.

On a conference call this morning hosted by the Progressice Campaign Change Committee (PCCC) 45 minutes before the summit was slated to begin, Reps. Chellie Pingree (D-ME) and Anthony Weiner (D-NY) said the public option shouldn't be thought of as dead.

"I think we can all play an early morning drinking game seeing how many times the public option even gets mentioned" at the White House summit, Weiner said. "Let's see where the votes are in the Senate before we go ahead and write the obituary for the public option."

"I think this is very fitting on the morning of the president's summit, when the issues of health care are being opened up again televised for the American public, and people can once again see what they want in their health care plan and can be reminded the importance of the public option," Pingree said.

PCCC co-founder Adam Green said he thinks the public option would pass if voted on under reconciliation rules, which only requite a simply majority for passage.

"I'm pretty convinced if we have an up or down vote we will actually win this, and the only thing working against us right now is allowing people who might oppose [the public option] silently to do so silently," Green said.

PCCC has commissioned polling from Research2000 showing voters in eight states--Nevada, Illinois, Washington, Missouri, Iowa, Colorado, Virginia, and Minnesota--saying they're more likely to vote for Democratic senate candidates (only some of whom are incumbents up for reelection in 2010) if the Senate passes health care with the public option and no GOP votes, versus a bipartisan bill that does not include the public option.